Snippet Saturday

Part 1Part 2, Part 3

After his meeting with Morgan, Sebastian headed to a local bar called Superstitions. It was the most popular bar that catered to the supernatural sect, which made it a great place to network and meet contacts. Humans “in the know” mingled with demons, vampires, and other creatures of the night, and Sebastian often met clients there during the course of a job.

It wasn’t crowded when Sebastian arrived. He went to the bar, took an empty stool, and ordered his usual, a Scotch, neat.  He had to feed later in order to break it down.

He’d only been there a few minutes before Rob, the owner, appeared.

“Hey, Seb, how ya doing?”  He leaned against the bar next to Sebastian.

Sebastian swallowed the sip he’d taken. “Good. In the market.”

“Ancient weapons? Books? Talismans?” He blinked his red-orange eyes, slitted pupils elongating, showing his interest.

“A book. The Magic of Music. It’s supposedly very old and rare.”

“Who’s the client?”

“His name is Tristan Clearwater. He says he overheard his father talking about it when he was younger and is interested in finding it.”

Rob pursed his lips and leaned against the bar. He scratched a horn nearly hidden by bleached blond hair. “I know an elf that deals with magic books. His name’s Uni. Reclusive, though, doesn’t like new people.”

“How does he stay in business, then?”

 Rob shook his head. “He barely scrapes by.”

“Can you pass on my information?” Sebastian asked.

“Sure. You could also try Raquel. She’s mostly talismans, but it wouldn’t hurt to check her out.”

Sebastian nodded. “I thought about her. And Abrax. He got me a book once a few years ago. I was going to call him tomorrow.”

Rob raised an eyebrow. “And, of course, there’s always Jezbeth. They’re pricey, but…”

He made a face. “No. I’m not entirely comfortable with their practices. The last time I worked with them, they stole my client and got them addicted to demon blood. Client eventually died. Only got half my fee, too.”

“Spreading lies about my company again?” a new voice said.

Sebastian sighed and turned.

Ash Hartley was standing there, his usual smirk in place.

“It’s not a lie if it happened,” Sebastian said.

“It is when your information is wrong. Alex got addicted to dragon scales, not demon blood. And it was hardly our fault.”

“You took Alex to the party!”

“And they chose to try the dragon scales!”

“With your partner’s encouragement.”

“It was still their choice.” Ash shrugged. “My partner told Alex how addictive it was, but they wanted to try anyway. Not our fault.”

Sebastian lifted his drink to his mouth. “Still stole my client.”

Ash came to the bar, body close. Closer than necessary, in Sebastian’s opinion. The human smelled like soap and expensive cologne. It made Sebastian’s stomach tighten. While Ash wasn’t as breathtakingly beautiful as Tristan Clearwater, he was still unfairly handsome with big green eyes, long dark lashes, and sandy blond hair that had a slight curl. He was an itch that Sebastian refused to scratch, and the little bastard knew it. Hence the standing just a bit closer than he needed to.

“Well,” Ash said, “that’s just business. What are you looking for now.”

“Like I’d tell you.” Even if he wasn’t afraid of his client being stolen, he felt reluctant to expose Tristan to Jezbeth Incorporated. If Tristan was as powerful as he seemed to be, the company would find a way to exploit it. Exploit him. Sebastian didn’t want that on his conscience.”

“Ah, come on.” Ash smiled innocently. Well, as innocently as someone like him could. “You seal in blood now. We can’t steal your client.”

“You’d find a way, I’m sure.”

He flashed his dimples. “Your confidence in me is flattering.”

Sebastian snorted darkly. 

“Fine. But I bet I could find what you’re looking for. I’ve got an extensive network and resources you could only dream of. You have no idea how vast our network is.”

“I have some.” He downed his Scotch and turned to Rob. “Please pass my name to Uni. And if you hear anything…”

“I’ll let you know.” Rob nodded.“Thanks. See you.” He tossed his money on the bar and left.

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

It’s Saturday, which means it’s time for me to post a section of my WIP, Dark Goddess. Dark Goddess is a vampire novel about a girl who discovers in her past life, she was the very first vampire. Now, everyone wants to kill her or worship her, and she’s not sure which is worse. I hope you enjoy this snippet!

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 , Part 7 , Part 8, Part 9

He turned and sat on the edge of the bathtub.  “A stake works, but only if you get it right through the heart.  A cross doesn’t kill.  It’s used as defense.  And it depends on the vampire.  Gabriel is one of the Faithful, so crosses wouldn’t affect him.”  The very idea of a cross hurting the very devout Gabriel almost made him smile.

“What’s the Faithful?”

“The Faithful are Kali’s children and those created by her children.”

She sighed and lifted one hand to her forehead in a familiar gesture.  Vampires don’t get headaches, but some of Kali’s followers could try the patience of a saint.  Kali of old had adopted the gesture whenever she was profoundly irritated.  “And what is the difference between the Faithful and a regular vampire?”

“The Faithful follow life by the code of laws set forth by Kali in thirty-three A.D.  Other vampires don’t.  That is really the only difference.”

She looked at him as one would a madman.  With an expression that clearly said she was regretting even thinking the question, she asked, “Anything important about the year thirty-three A.D., or did you… did she pull it out of thin air?”

“There is a significance.  It’s very soon after Kali claims she met Jesus Christ.”  He took a deep breath, wondering if he should utter the next blasphemous part; the part that, at one time, he had almost believed.  “The man whom Kali also claims may or may not have gotten the idea for his divine birth from one of her more… earnest children.”

It only took her moment to make the connection, which heartened him.  Yes, she had the memories, even if she didn’t believe them.  “Gabriel.”

He nodded.  “Never mix Greek slaves and devout Jewish women, you said.  To which I replied…”

“Never doubt the visions of the pure, for through them the Lord often speaks.”  Her eyes went wide, hands flying to her mouth as if to take back the words.

“You remember.”  It wasn’t a question.

She shook her head.  “No.” Her head shook again, then she said, “Isn’t that, like, an affront to your religion?  Gabriel said you’re a priest.  How can you believe God may have spoken to a vampire?”

“It’s no more an affront than a vampire being Catholic.”

“Gabriel was Catholic?”

He smiled at her and tested the temperature of the water.  “It’s a long and complicated tale, but, yes, Gabriel considers himself Catholic.  It’s how we met.  His pursuit of religion brought us all together.”

“I think we have time for a long story.”

“I’ll tell you after you bathe.  Here’s a change of clothes and all else you may need.”  He indicated the bag he’d set on the floor.  “I’ll make you something to eat.

Kali tugged at one of her matted curls.  She looked so sad and lost, confused and hopeless.  So unlike the confident vampire he had once known.

He wanted to comfort her.  He hated that feeling.

“I’ve got first aid supplies in the other room.  When you’re clean, I’ll bandage the worst of your injuries.”

“Why are you being so nice to me?  You’re just going to kill me, right?”

“Yes, but not for four more days.  I see no reason for you to suffer.”  Then, before she could ask any more questions, Garrison left.

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6

“I’m a vampire.”

She laughed.  The laugh was as weak as she felt.

“I need to sit.”  She stumbled back and sat hard on the toilet.  “Vampires don’t exist.  It’s not real.  There are people who… What are you doing?”

Gabriel had her hand in his and was peeling a bandage away.  “The modern world is so strange.”  His pale fingers rubbed at one of the scrapes, drawing blood from it.  “You are religious and believe in miracles, or you say you do, but you have ceased to truly believe in anything else.”

“I believe in the devil.”

He snorted.  “Not really.  Even I don’t believe in the Catholic Satan anymore.  I’ve seen too much evil without him, but never him.”  He raised Kali’s arm and fastened his mouth around the bleeding wound.

She shrieked and pulled her arm from him. “What the hell are you…. Holy shit.”

The scrape had healed over leaving smooth, unblemished skin behind.

Gabriel smiled at her.  On anyone else, it would have been a smug smile.  On him, it was beatific.  “One of the gifts of the goddess.”

“Oh my God.”  She reached with a shaking hand to his mouth and scraped her finger on his pointy-sharp incisor.

It retracted under her touch.

“It moved.”

“They do that.”  He opened his mouth.  His eye-teeth extended almost to his lower lip.  “Easier to eat when they’re long,” he lisped.  “Not so easy to talk.”

A gunshot went off downstairs.

“What was that?”  She leapt to her feet and rushed past Gabriel, the pain in her head and knee forgotten.

“Tell me where she is!” she heard as she opened the door.

Garrison.

Gabriel was behind her.  “He found you.  We have to go.”  He took her by the wrist.  “Come on.”

“Wait!” She struggled against him as he dragged her away from the door.

The gun went off again.  People screamed.

Both Gabriel and Kali froze.

Feet pounded on the stairs.

“He’s coming.”  She broke away from Gabriel and slammed the door.  “Help me move the desk!”  She ran over to it and pulled.

It didn’t budge.

“There’s no time.”  Gabriel pulled her away and swept her into his arms.  Then, he leapt out the window.

Kali screamed as glass shattered around them.  Shards sliced into her face.  She pressed he face against Gabriel’s neck.

They hit the ground with a jarring thud.  Gabriel set her on her feet.  “Come on.  My car is close.”  

The ground was hard against her socked feet.  She took a few stumbling steps, but her legs protested.  She fell.

“Gabriel!” Garrison shouted.

She looked up.  He was leaning out the open window, shotgun in his hand.

“You can’t save her!  Give her up now.”

“I won’t let you take her again, Father Pike!” Gabriel picked Kali up again and ran.

“Where are we going?” she gasped.

“The parking structure!”  He rounded a corner and pointed.  Even running and carrying her, he didn’t sound winded.

“Here.”  He stopped in front of the parking structure, looking up.  “I’m on the fourth level.”

“Stairs.”  She pointed to the end of the building.

He looked at her and smiled.  “I don’t need stairs.  Hold on.”

“What?”

He put her down and turned to present his back.  “Hold on.”  He took her hands and wrapped them around his neck.  Then he leapt halfway up the side of the building.

“God!” Kali squeaked.

He was gripping the concrete with his nails as he climbed up the sides like he was a cat.  They scrambled to an opening on the fourth level, where Gabriel heaved himself over the ledge and planted his feet on solid ground once more.

Kali let go of him and took a few shaky steps away.  “How did you do that?”  Her legs threatened to give out.  She leaned against a car and took a few deep breaths.

“I’m a vampire.  We can do that.”

Of course.  He could heal cuts, he had retracting teeth, why couldn’t he climb up walls?  “How did Garrison find me?”

“He used magic.  Probably a tracing spell using your blood.”

“My blood?”

He nodded.  “I just don’t understand how he got past your guards.  He broke through all the protections we had around you, which should have been impossible.  But…”

“What guards?”

“You’re our queen,” he said, looking at her with simple and complete adoration.  “Our creator.  Our goddess.  Even though you’re human, we do what we can to protect you.”

She snorted and thought of the myriad of foster homes and relatives’ houses she’d been in and out of her whole life.  She thought of hungry nights and days, and the times when she was too cold or too hot or too tired because the adults around her couldn’t take care of her properly.  Thought of the abuse and the fear and the all too few moments of peace.

“Yeah, well, you’ve done a bang-up job.”

His face reflected guilt and anxiety.  With a hesitance that made her want to cry, he stepped forward and took her hand.  “I’m sorry,” he whispered.  His hand was so cold.  “I always thought we should do more but was voted down.  I have a history of making a mess of things.  Morgan thought it best we allow you to live a normal life without us interfering.”  He kissed the palm of her hand, eyes falling shut.  “We kept our kind from hurting you, kept Garrison from taking you.  We tried to protect you, but obviously something happened.”  He opened his eyes again.  “Forgive us?”

“Gabriel, I don’t know anything about you.  I don’t know if I can even trust you.  Aren’t vampires evil?”

He never got to answer.  Just as he opened his mouth to speak, a van tore around the corner.

“Run!” He shoved her away from him.

Kali flew across the structure.  She landed hard on the concrete floor.

“Take my car!” Gabriel threw the keys at her.

The van rammed him.  Tires squealed.  Gabriel was plowed into another car with the horrific sound of crunching metal.

“Oh no.  No, no, no.”

Smoke rose from the van’s hood.  Everything was silent.  Gabriel lay still, trapped between the cars, skin completely white.

            hen, the van door opened.  Garrison climbed out.

Kali moved.  She scrambled for the keys that had landed inches from her.  Hit the alarm the moment she had them.

A blue BMW down the row started wailing.

She ran to it.

She never saw Garrison move.  One minute, she was running, the next, she was on the ground, black dots flying at her face.

“Stay.” Garrison bent down and took the keys from her numb fingers.

“Garrison,” Gabriel moaned.  Metal screeched against metal.  He groaned.

“Gabriel, don’t move.”  Garrison sounded almost… fond.  “You can’t save her.  You will only cause yourself pain if you try.  Let her go.”

“No.”

Kali struggled to sit up.  Her head pounded.  Holy God in heaven, she probably had the worst concussion by now.  She’d be lucky if she survived without brain damage.

Garrison went to Gabriel.  There was a crowbar in one hand, gun in the other.

Gabriel pushed the van off him and stumbled forward.  There was a determined look on his too-young face.  His eyes were impossibly blue against his marble white skin.

“Gabriel…”

“No!  Don’t you understand?  She’s returned, just like she said she would.  Just as she promised.  Kali is stronger than you and the church and…”

Garrison fired.  The gunshot echoed loudly in the cavernous structure.

Kali screamed.

Gabriel took a step back.

“I won’t…” he said through clenched teeth.

Garrison fired again and again until the gun clicked, out of bullets.  Gabriel fell to his knees, still conscious.  His chest rose and fell with a strange sucking sound.  Blood bubbled at his lips.

“Please,” he exhaled.  More blood trickled from his mouth when he spoke.

Garrison dropped the empty clip on the ground.  He knelt in front of Gabriel and touched his cheek.  “I’m sorry, my son.  If not for her, you might have been saved.  But she never gave your soul a chance.”

“Don’t.”

Garrison stood.  He swung the crowbar at Gabriel’s face.

Kali’s hand flew to her eyes.  She couldn’t watch.  But she had to.  She opened her fingers and peeked through them.

Gabriel was unconscious.  His chest wasn’t moving anymore.  Even the blood had stopped flowing.

Garrison hit him again.

Gabriel’s beautiful nose broke, marring his perfect face.

“Stop it!”  Kali leapt to her feet and stumbled to Garrison.  “Stop it!”  She grabbed his arm and yanked Garrison away from the man who would have been her savior.  “He’s dead!  Leave him alone!”

Garrison rounded on her, face a mask of fury.  “That boy has survived hundreds of years past his time because I cannot bring myself to kill him.  And even now…” He stopped abruptly and gave a sharp shake of his head.  Grabbing Kali by the arm, he pulled her to Gabriel’s car.  “Come.  We need to go.”

“No!”  She fought him, kicking and clawing, trying to get away.

“Kali…”  His grip loosened.

“Let me go!”

“Damn it!”  He grabbed her arm and swung her.

Kali tried to brace herself, to stop her movement, but she had no control.  The last thing she saw before blackness took her was the back of Garrison’s van rushing towards her.